Hines and Holloway shine in UMass men’s basketball season debut

By Philip Sanzo

(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

If you asked Massachusetts men’s basketball coach Matt McCall about his front court five weeks ago when Rashaan Holloway went down with a thumb injury, his response wouldn’t scream optimism.

But on opening night at the Mullins Center against University rival UMass-Lowell, the front court combination of Malik Hines and Holloway asserted its dominance.

Hines, who has taken reps as the primary big-man in practice, scored 11 points and brought in 13 rebounds. To him, the double-double did not mean all that much.

“At this point I just go out there and roll with the flow of the game, just working on being in the right spots at the right time and helping this team as much as I can,” Hines said. “I mean, we got four or five players who it’s their first year playing, they’re going to see a lot of minutes, obviously we’re low with bodies. I’m just trying to be one of the older guys to just step up and take more of a leadership role on the court.”

Despite playing 31 minutes, Hines accumulated only one foul, the least on the team. Holloway finished the game with four and two in the first half thus limiting his time on the court to just 16 minutes. Having not practiced for the past month also contributed to his in game difficulties.

“It wasn’t hard [to get in a rhythm] because of the fouls, it was hard because I ain’t played in five weeks,” Holloway said. “Fouls are a part of the game, some refs call different calls, ref the game differently, but I got to play through my circumstances and just play how the game is played.”

Holloway’s rebounds were capped at three, but he made his presence much more well-known on the defensive side, blocking three potential River Hawk scores.

“That’s my job on this team, protect the basket,” Holloway said. “I know two of them sparked big baskets, a fast break layup, but that’s what my team looks for me to do. Protect the basket, get rebounds, and score.”

The Minutemen’s defense down-low was strong, but in some cases, according to McCall, players were “over-helping.”

“We talked a lot about not getting sucked in on drives,” McCall said. “I thought that happened too much, guys were driving down the lane, over-helping—make those guys have to score over the top of Malik Hines and Rashaan Holloway. Don’t get sucked in on drives and start giving up rhythm threes, we did that too much and we talked all about that in practice.”

This resulted in the River Hawks scoring six three-pointers, including one by Matt Harris in the final minute to bring UML within three points of the Minutemen.

Hines has expressed his desire to be a leader on the court and in the locker room, something a leader like Holloway has noticed.

“Oh, excellent,” Holloway said of Hines’ performance. “I think he played really well, I think 13 rebounds and 11 points speaks for itself, as I’m stepping up and taking the role as the primary big man, I couldn’t appreciate that more.”

Philip Sanzo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.